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Would-be bomber was 'screened' at Lagos airport, Nigerian officials say

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-01-07

Nigeria has offered the U.S. images of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man who allegedly tried to bomb an aeroplane on Christmas Day, being screened at Lagos airport.

AFP - Nigeria on Thursday said the man accused of trying to bomb a US airline was properly screened as it offered the US images of him going through security checks at a Lagos airport.

"The young man came in, he was screened," Justice Minister Michael Aondoaaka said.

"We have visual information... (that shows) our security agents did what they were supposed to do," the minister told journalists.

US authorities have charged a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with attempting to blow up a US jetliner on Christmas Day with explosives sewn in his underpants.

He had passed through Lagos on his way from Accra to Amsterdam where he boarded a flight to Detroit.

He was arrested after trying to set off a bomb hidden in his underwear on a US Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit on Christmas day.

"We have nothing to hide," he said offering, pledging Abuja's full cooperation with US investigators and giving details of a proposed anti-terrorism law.

"We will give full cooperation and all requests made related to the investigations will be granted," he said.

Security staff "did all that was required under the law to ensure that Nigeria complies with international standards," he added.

Nigeria has demanded it be removed from a US terror watchlist of 14 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, introduced this week after a security review ordered by President Barack Obama.

Under a government-sponsored anti-terrorism bill before the country's legislature, acts of terrorism will be punishable by life jail terms, Aondoaaka said.

"If you conspire to commit a terrorist act anywhere in the world, (even if) you did not do it on Nigerian soil but the conspiracy took place in Nigeria or aspect of the conspiracy took place in Nigeria, you go in for life imprisonment," he said.

"The bill clearly defines and prohibits all acts of terrorism and its support," Aondoaaka said.

Convicted terrorists will be prevented from entering or transiting through Nigeria while their assets inside the west African country will be frozen.

Parliament is expected to begin debating the bill when it returns next week from the year end recess.

The cabinet warned on Wednesday that new US security restrictions on air passengers from Nigeria are likely to hurt ties between the two countries.

Aondoaaka said Nigeria would not allow "such a single incident to rupture the relationship and I am very hopeful that with facts and what we are placing before the US government, they will rescind their decision."

"Nigeria is not a terrorist country. Nigeria will not, cannot be on the list of countries of interest because we have a track record as a peacekeeper," added the minister.

"We have taken steps to deal with this situation, to pre-empt any future occurence of this situation in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world."

Date created : 2010-01-07

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